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Algarvian Winter Warmth

01/10/2015 | Bowls

Holiday Inn from the beach

The Beautiful Beachfront Location Of The Holiday Inn Algarve

Published in Bowls International, April 2011

Jonathan Plumridge, of Personal Touch Holidays, describes an idyllic base for winter bowls tours on Portugal’s Algarvian coast.

History has been very kind to some places, by-passing them sufficiently to allow them to retain their natural, modest, yet alluring charms. This had always been the case with the Algarve, until mass market tourism took hold in the 1970s and 80s, and enchantingly sleepy little fishing communities began to be engulfed and indeed engorged by land hungry, greedy and largely insensitive tourism developments.

During the magnificent Moorish empires of the Middle Ages, the Algarve had lain largely dormant for over 500 years at the western extremities of Moorish influence (Al Gharb in fact designating a far off ‘west’ in the Arabic dialect spoken at the time).

Later, from the mid 13th century onwards, as the last area of what we now know as Portugal to have been wrested back from Moorish dominion, it continued to remain well away from all major centres of influence and development within the country for many centuries. Unspoilt, traditional, and unchanging, generations of its inhabitants have eked out a meagre living from farming its lands and fishing its waters, in all probability blissfully unaware of the natural beauty that surrounded them.

This rural simplicity and the strikingly scenic coastal beauty in which it was embedded, allied to the wonderfully warm reception that was proffered to people visiting the Algarve, proved an alluring recuperative tonic for the first-world weary British that first ‘discovered’ the area in the mid 20th century, and thenceforth made it one of their holiday havens of choice.

Where then today can one still capture something of the flavour of this bygone holiday idyll?

One of the most comfortable and yet affordable accommodation options offering both incredible coastal vistas and also a heart warming service style is undoubtedly the Holiday Inn Algarve in Armação de Pera.

Home to one of the most beautiful beaches in the Algarve, Armação, like many other fishing communities, had begun to succumb to the pressures of largely unfettered tourism avarice, and appeared about to be entombed in high rise concrete when good sense finally struck home and its municipality embarked upon a plan to salvage it, the most striking result of which has been the construction of a beautiful palm-studded cliff-top esplanade that delightfully enhances the spellbinding vistas that it offers over Armação’s main beach.

Immediately adjacent to this esplanade, and occupying the prime sea view setting in the resort, stands the wonderfully located Hotel Holiday Inn Algarve.

Gazing dreamily out to sea to a distant azure horizon, the Holiday Inn offers the virginal coastal views over unspoilt sand and infinite sea that were once so characteristic of most of the coastline, but which now can only be experienced from one or two very special hotels.

Moreover, it capitalises to the maximum on these views, offering them from its main restaurant, its à la carte restaurant, its breakfast and dining terrace, its swimming pool, its sun lounging area, and many of its rooms. Imagine the therapeutic effects of dwelling on such relaxing, undiluted natural beauty throughout an entire extended stay at the hotel.

And when luxuriant inactivity eventually begins to pall, as sadly it eventually must for most of us, the Holiday Inn alsooffers immediate and direct access both to several kilometres of fine sand beach and to the scenic Armação esplanade, that itself leads directly to the historic heart of the resort, that then gives way to an intriguing mosaic of narrow lanes and former fisherman’s houses, that eventually embrace one of the most picturesque parts of the resort, and the historic nucleus from which it originally grew, its fisherman’s beach.

Why was this beach and the buildings surrounding it originally known as Armação de Pera? Because, as a thriving fisherman’s community within the municipality of Pera, it formerly housed, for over 300 years, a large ‘armação’, or special facility, dedicated to the fishing of tuna.

Though the tuna have long since departed, and the ‘armação’ has unfortunately been pulled down, the fisherman’s community that they generated is still very much alive: their brightly adorned boats decorate the beach, their catch is the life blood of several fine fish restaurants located close to the beach, their fascinating visages (tanned and leathered by constant exposure to the Algarve’s dazzling sunshine) continue to beam with enjoyment as they chat, discuss and debate amongst themselves whilst mending their nets during the day, and the fricative nasalised buzz of their conversation continues to contribute to the endearing soundscape of the resort. In the high summer, all this beauty can occasionally come under severe pressurefrom the sheer volume of enthusiastic visitors that it attracts. In the low season however, from November to March, with the weather still sunny but temperatures at comfortable levels, both the resort and its residents can breathe freely and make the very most of the good fortune that nature has bestowed upon them.

Because of its character, and because of its central location on the Algarve, Personal Touch Holidays has decided to make Armação its principal base for bowls tours in Portugal for the 2011/2012 touring season. A third reason for doing so is the remarkably strong partnership that it has forged with the resort’s leading hotel, the aforementioned Hotel Holiday Inn Algarve.

For years, operating as the Hotel Garbe, this hotel provided excellent 4-star service to a loyal clientele of principally British long-stay winter guests. Now rebranded and the recent beneficiary of significant investment in its appearance and facilities, the same team of loyal long-serving employees looks forward to continuing its tradition of highly personalised and friendly service way into the future.

What else then makes the Holiday Inn Algarve so special, why is it so well suited to winter bowls tourism, and what precisely is the nature of its special relationship with Personal Touch Holidays?

Firstly, it is much more than simply a hotel, it is focal point within its community and a particularly important facility for the Algarvian British ex-patriot community. This is because the Holiday Inn is bothinnovative in terms of the services that it offers and also because it exudes the familial warmth that nearly all small service industry businesses strive for. The oldest bridge club in the Algarve meets there every week, Pilates classes take place twice a week, the local branch of the Royal British Legion meets there regularly, as does the Rotary Club, the British Portuguese Chamber Of Commerce, and the St Patrick’s Society. It also organises special events to celebrate all important dates in the calendar and actively sponsors many local events, such as the Algarve Literature Festival, the Fiesa International Sand Sculptures Festival (that takes place on Armação’s main beach), the Armação Caldeirada (or fish casserole) Festival, and the Algarve Spring Pairs bowling competition, based at local bowls club Valverde.

The ‘home from home’ atmosphere that pertains throughout the hotel is perhaps best described in the words of some of its regular guests. “The Holiday Inn Hotel has a certain ambience which cannot be found in any other. One is conscious of it from the moment of arrival. All the staff go out of their way to assist you”. And, “the genuine welcome which greets you each time you arrive is like a homecoming”.

Moreover, the Holiday Inn is particularly well suited to winter bowls tourism because of the marvellous added values that it offers from November to March. Not only is the wonderfully positioned swimming pool heated throughout the winter, but complimentary wine is offered with dinner and complimentary afternoon tea with biscuits is offered each afternoon.

Personal Touch Holidays’ special relationship with the hotel furthermore enables them to offer complimentary upgrades to sea view rooms to all twin share room bookers and special no single supplement conditions to all single land view room bookers. Finally, due to its central location on the Algarve, the hotel also offers manageable transfer times to all the bowls clubs in the region.

At the moment, due to the worldwide economic recession, prices for a one week stay on half board including flights, transfers, and four included bowls matches lead in at only £549 per person. Please contact Personal Touch Holidays on 01403 786200 or at office@thepersonaltouch. for further details.

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